Saffron Walden gallery’s £199k windfall

Fry Art Gallery has been awarded almost 200,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enhance its collec

Fry Art Gallery has been awarded almost 200,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enhance its collection - Credit: Archant

A community-run gallery has been awarded nearly £200,000 to enhance its collection of work from local artists.

Fry Art Gallery, on Castle Street, Saffron Walden, has won the ‘Collecting Cultures’ award, granted to 23 galleries across the country by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Established in 1987, the collection houses a variety of work from those with a connection to the area, with a particular focus on the Great Bardfield Artists, who lived in the Essex village between the 1930s and 1970s.

Half of the grant has already been awarded, with the remainder of the £199,000 to be allotted over the next five years.

“The award is really an acknowledgement of the quality and type of the collection,” said Fry Gallery chairman, David Oelman. “They recognise that we have a national collection here.

“It’s run by the local community, by volunteers, which is rare. People come from all over the world to visit, depending on the exhibition,” he said.

The money will be spent on researching further artists, training volunteers and maintaining and conserving the collection.

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With money from the grant, the gallery has acquired five scrapbooks of artist Edward Bawden RA, an English painter, illustrator and graphic artist, whose work focuses on Great Bardfield, where he was born and lived for many years.

John Aldridge RA, who lived in the village for 50 years, is also celebrated in the collection of paintings, prints, illustrations and wallpapers, as well as Eric Ravilious, his wife Tirzah Garwood, and other artists who came to the village during the Second World War and the 1950s.

The ‘Ecclesiastical Delights’ exhibition, featuring depictions of churches and parish life from north-west Essex, is currently running at Fry Art Gallery until October 26. The gallery is then closed to visitors from the end of the month, but will host a number of lectures and events throughout the autumn, as well as the annual sale on November 8 and 9.

For more information about the gallery, go to